According to a recent study conducted among 8,000 men aged 16 to 59, it was found that men who smoke a packet of cigarettes a day are almost 40 % more likely to be impotent than non-smokers.
They reported suffering erection problems for a month or more in the previous year. Those who smoked less than 20 cigarettes a day were 24 % more likely to report impotence problems. Anti-smoking campaigners welcome this kind of research as they think that it would discourage more people from smoking. The study results were published in the journal Tobacco Control.
The researchers, including a team from Imperial College London, found that the more men smoked, the more likely they were to suffer erection problems. Older men and those with heart disease were also more likely to suffer from impotence. The Sexual Dysfunction Association (SDA) says smoking is a contributory factor in many cases of impotence. The main reason behind this is that nicotine present in the cigarette affects the circulatory system and blocks the blood vessels supplying blood to the sexual organs.
Research also suggests a smoker who is diagnosed as impotent can be more difficult to treat than a non-smoker. The other disadvantage of smoking is that it increases the likelihood of developing abnormalities in the blood cells in the penis. Chris Millett, a researcher from Imperial College, said that about one in three British men aged 20 to 34 years is a smoker. Lung cancer and cardiovascular disease are the later effects of smoking but impotence may be a more immediate problem to tackle.
The anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said that statistics show that about 700,000 men aged 30 to 50 in UK are smokers who would be suffering from impotence. Deborah Arnott, the director of ASH, said that, for decades, cigarettes had been marketed as a symbol of virility but the reality is that smoking is a primary cause of impotence, which may also be an early indicator of coronary heart disease.